A Hornet’s Nest in Your Lap



Ever have one of those days when it doesn’t really matter what you do, what you don’t do, what you say, what you don’t say—you find yourself sitting on top of a hornet’s nest, and at the slightest provocation, you’ll get nailed, but good.

The hardest reality of all is that you may have actually invited and fostered the hornets that are now ready to attack you.  You offered them shelter, a safe haven, a place to come home to and what happens in return?  You’re stung because you happen to be there, perched in a precarious position.

What difficult lessons life tosses at us sometimes.  And this little drama is happening in my own backyard.

As I headed to the barn for chores and walked past our happy little gnome, I gave him my usual smile, wave and morning greeting, but something was different and I looked a little closer.  He looked suddenly anatomically correct.  And the look on his face had taken on a distinctly worried cast.  How had he gotten himself into this predicament of harboring a hornet’s nest in his lap?

He reminded me we should be worried too.  When we’re feeling very hospitable, welcoming and willing to share what we have with others, it can be the best feeling in the world.  There is a sense of graciousness and gratitude in being able to give something of one’s self, and a distinct “need to be needed” that is rewarded.  Yet it is often no selfless sacrifice, this “offering our lap”. We give because it feels good to give; share because we feel rewarded by gratitude, or because it is the “right thing to do”.  Perhaps we even expect something in return for our kindness. Indeed, that is the problem—often there is no acknowledgment or gratitude and that can hurt a lot.  I too occasionally share space with “hornets”, sometimes unwittingly, until I get stung and am sorely reminded of just what I’ve sat down in.  I’m rewarded, all right, and I get exactly what I deserve.

Yet what should worry us even more is that sometimes we’re the ones building a nest in an opportunistic place where we have been invited to take refuge.  In our most selfish moments, we’re looking for that lap to settle in where we can have the most control either by threat or worse.   We’re ready to sting at the slightest provocation, or perhaps for no reason at all.   How do we get ourselves into such a predicament that we sometimes hurt those that harbor us and who have been generous to us?

My little backyard friend is in a dilemma, pleading with his eyes to be saved from his agony.  I’m planning a stealth rescue mission.  Without warning, in the dark of night, I’ll turn a hose on that nest, sweep it to the ground and crush it, hornets and all.  A “take no prisoners” approach to a gnome held hornet-hostage.

We at least have been warned about our life’s precarious perch and to not sting the lap that holds us.  When we offer up ourselves, it must be without expectation, simply pure gift.  And every time I look at my gnome’s gracious cheerful face I will smile too, knowing that our rescue is at hand.


I didn’t execute the “save our gnome”  rescue mission soon enough.  While I was foolish enough to mow the grass under our swing set today, the offending hornet nailed me in the neck.  I walked right into it, forgetting there was a hornet hazard over my head.  One ice bag and benedryl later, I dispatched hornet and nest to the great beyond.

There are times when we need to be an active participant in our own rescue…


photo by Tomomi Gibson